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Environmental Litigation

Known nationally for the results obtained for our clients on a wide range of environmental matters, Vinson & Elkins Environmental Litigation team has worked on some of the last decade’s most important and highly publicized environmental litigation matters. 

We have litigated cases across the spectrum of environmental law, including civil and criminal enforcement, private-party litigation, toxic tort litigation, environmental citizen suits, contested permitting or rule-making, CERCLA litigation, and crisis management and response. We have particular strength in representing clients in federal and state courts, and before administrative agencies, on complex environmental matters that include components such as regulatory enforcement, criminal issues, and tort or contract actions.

We are skilled negotiators with a broad and deep understanding of the issues facing clients in the industrial, manufacturing, and energy sectors. We understand the potentially catastrophic consequences of environmental litigation, such as disrupting operations, distracting executives, and damaging a company’s brand, as well as the potential monetary consequences of damages, fines, penalties, and debarment. Our goal is to achieve cost-effective and favorable resolutions of environmental matters consistent with each client’s business objectives.

Experience Highlights

  • Representing a major international mining company in more than sixty significant environmental and commercial litigation matters that have a substantial environmental component

  • Represented a large coal and coke export facility on the Gulf Coast in defense of a Clean Water Act citizens suit initiated by a combination of local and national environmental NGOs

  • Obtained dismissal by trial court of Clean Air Act enforcement action against a former owner of a coal-fired power plant seeking extensive injunctive relief; Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal in unanimous 68-page opinion

  • Defended a large integrated refinery and chemical plant against Clean Air Act citizen suit enforcement litigation

  • Defended federal, state, local governmental and private party claims arising out of the largest inland gasoline spill in U.S. history and obtained a defense jury verdict in the first civil case by a group of 14 plaintiffs and settlement of the Natural Resources Damage claims for a fraction of original damage estimates

  • Represented an oil and gas producer in civil litigation involving allegations of soil and groundwater contamination, and claims of trespass, nuisance, and breach of contract resulting from oil and gas exploration activities

  • Obtained summary judgment on all claims for a real estate developer in a toxic tort case involving claims of trespass, nuisance, negligence, and cost-recovery claims under the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act based on the release of chemicals from a neighboring industrial facility

  • Defended a private arbitration arising out of the sale of a plant targeted in EPA’s New Source Review Initiative wherein the seller paid less than fifty cents on the dollar for costs of restoring plant to compliance

  • Defended an oil and gas operator in the Gulf of Mexico against criminal prosecution related to oil spills and NPDES compliance reporting